2 posts • joined 13 Jan 2010
The myth of technology neutrality and the flexibility of LTE
The comments about the superiority of LTE are essentially correct. Furthermore LTE is being developed and will soon be commercial in TDD (unpaired) as well as FDD (paired mode) and in multiple channel widths and frequency bands. While FDD mobile WiMAX profiles are being standardized, so far there have been no indications that any vendor is investing in their development. The idea of pure "technology neutrality" while superficially appealing is a myth, since any pre-defined band plan against which bidders have to make offers will tend to favor one technology over others depending on the choices its developers make. The alternative, long argued for by Intel and others, that bidders for licenses should be allowed to decide what channels and structures they want within a band (i.e a flexible plan like ITU Option 3 for the 2.6 GHz band) is unworkable and inefficient. It is likely to lead to chaos as various bidders try to manage interference between their various paired and unpaired blocks. The result will be a loss of otherwise usable frequencies and capacity and additional delays in being able to deploy networks. This outcome would not be in the interests of customers, which should be paramount.
An unfortunate misunderstanding
I am one of the authors of the 2.6GHz report for the GSMA and hence hardly a neutral observer. However, I must protest against the perpetuation of a serious misunderstanding in this article about the report. The article implies that FDD=LTE and TDD=WiMAX. However, in the report we explicitly state and show by referring to the intense development being put into TDD LTE (led by China but involving Western as well as Chinese vendors) including the stress on maximizing its commonality with FDD LTE, that LTE will be available for deployment in TDD spectrum at 2.6GHz and other frequencies. There is no basis for the implication that the GSMA expects any 2.6GHz spectrum allocated to TDD to lie unused "as WiMAX dies." TDD LTE will be available while if you believe the WiMAX Forum so will FDD WiMAX. It is high time to abandon the idea that technology neutrality or fair competition between LTE and WiMAX are the same thing as or require neutrality in how spectrum is allocated between FDD and TDD modes of operation. As the report shows, the realities of interference mean that allowing freedom of choice in use of TDD and FDD is in a mild way equivalent to letting people decide which side of the road to drive on in the name of individual freedom (although electromagnetic collisions are less lethal than vehicular ones).
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